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Settlements and bankruptcies in Catholic sex abuse cases have affected several American dioceses, whose compensation payments have totaled in the billions of dollars

Estimates by Donald Cozzens

According to Donald Cozzens, "by the end of the mid 1990s, it was estimated that ...more than half a billion dollars had been paid in jury awards, settlements and legal fees." This figure grew to about one billion dollars by 2002.[1] Roman Catholics spent $615 million on sex abuse cases in 2007.[2]

Payments to victims

Date Diocese Charges made against Amount # of Victims Comments Notes
1994, May Lincoln, NB $40,000 1 Rob Butler, FKA Adam Butler claimed he was abused weekly for two years
1997 Dallas, TX $31 million [3]
2003, Jun Louisville, KY $25.7 million 240 [4]
2003, Sep Boston, MA $85 million 552 [5]
2004, Jul 6 Portland, OR $53 million 100 (over) Filed for bankruptcy, Chapter 11 hours before two abuse trials were set to begin
2004, Sep Tucson, AZ $22.2 million Filed for bankruptcy, after reaching an agreement with its victims [6]
2004, Dec Spokane, WA $48 million (at least) Filed for bankruptcy, payment was a part (has to be approved by judge and victims) [7]
2005, Jan 3 Orange, CA 30 priests, 2 nuns, 11 other $100 million 87 In 1997, Bishop Tod Brown himself was accused of having sexually abused a 12-year-old boy in 1965 as pastor in Bakersfield. Church officials dismissed the claims and he denied the allegation. Eleuterio Ramos 11 cases, Siegfried Widera, who later suicided, 9 cases, 25 case uninvolved [8][9][10][11][12]
2006, Oct 10 Davenport, IA Lawrence Soens 15 Filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, alleged victims were 15 students from 1960s who accused Bishop Soens who denied the accusations. [13][14]
2006, Dec Phoenix, AZ $100,000 1 William Cesolini [15]
2006, Dec Los Angeles, CA priests $60 million 45 Cardinal Roger Mahony, 45 of the over 500 pending cases [16]
2007 Los Angeles, CA Father Mark Falvey $16 million 9 ordered to pay [17]
2007, Jan 15 Charleston, SC priests $12 million many Bishop Robert J. Baker agreed to pay [18]
2007, Jul 16 Los Angeles, CA $660 million (£324m) 508 (over) Archbishop Roger Mahony and the Los Angeles diocese apologized for abuses by priests describing them as "terrible sin and crime", after settling with over 508 alleged victims [19][20]
2007, Jan Charleston, SC $12 million [18]
2007, Feb 27 San Diego, CA Robert Brom $198.1 million 144 Filed for Chapter 11 protection, hours before the first of about 150 lawsuits about childhood abuse was due to be heard — it became the largest diocese to seek bankruptcy protection. [21]
2008, Mar 7 Fairbanks, AK 130 Filed for bankruptcy due to monetary concerns over 130 lawsuits made by Alaska natives claiming to have been abused by priests, and other church employees


2008, May 29 Sacramento, CA Frs. Arthur & Mark Falvey $100,000 1 Diocese of Sacramento paid $100,000 to William Green who alleged he was raped and molested from age 7-11 at St Ignatius Parish, by identical twin brother priests Fr. Arthur Falvey of Sacramento, and Fr. Mark Falvey of Los Angeles


2009, Feb Memphis, TN Fr Juan Carlos Duran $2 million 1 Fr. Duran had previous sexual history with minors in St. Louis, Panama and Bolivia [24]
2009, Oct Savannah, GA Wayland Brown $4.24 million 1 2nd largest individual sum paid [25]
Total $1.269 billion (over) 1,835



Citing monetary concerns arising from impending trials on sex abuse claims, the Archdiocese of Portland (Oregon) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 6, 2004, hours before two abuse trials were set to begin, becoming the first Roman Catholic diocese to file for bankruptcy. If granted, bankruptcy would mean pending and future lawsuits would be settled in federal bankruptcy court. The archdiocese had settled more than one hundred previous claims for a sum of over $53 million. The filing seeks to protect parish assets, school money and trust funds from abuse victims; the archdiocese's contention is that parish assets are not the archdiocese's assets. Plaintiffs in the cases against the archdiocese have argued that the Catholic Church is a single entity, and that the Vatican should be liable for any damages awarded in judgment of pending sexual abuse cases.


The Diocese of Tucson filed for bankruptcy in September, 2004. The diocese reached an agreement with its victims, which the bankruptcy judge approved June 11, 2005, specifying terms that included allowing the diocese reorganization to continue in return for a $22.2 million settlement.[26]


In December, 2004, the Diocese of Spokane, Washington agreed to pay at least 48 million dollars as compensation to those abused by priests as part of its bankruptcy filing. This payout has to be agreed upon by victims and another judge.[27]


On October 10, 2006, the Diocese of Davenport filed for Chapter 11 protection.[28] The decision to file for bankruptcy was driven by many claims which focused on Bishop Lawrence Soens, who had been accused of fondling as many as 15 students during his tenure as priest and principal at Regina Catholic High School in Iowa City during the 1960s. Soens denies the allegations. A judge discharged one suit in October 2006.[29]

San Diego

On February 27, 2007, the Diocese of San Diego filed for Chapter 11 protection, hours before the first of about 150 lawsuits was due to be heard. San Diego became the largest diocese to postpone its legal problems in this way.[30]


On March 7, 2008, the Diocese of Fairbanks filed for bankruptcy after 130 civil suits filed by Alaska natives who claim to be abused by priests, and other church employees, beginning in the 1950s.[31]


On October 18, 2009, the Diocese of Wilmington filed for bankruptcy as the first of some eight lawsuits (of more than 100 potential) was scheduled to go to trial the next day.[32][33][34]


  1. Cozzens, Donald B. (2000). The changing face of the priesthood: A reflection on the priest's crisis of soul. Liturgical Press. p. 125.
  2. [1]
  3. Bishop Accountability
  4. Lawyers Louisville Kentucky, News on Clergy Sexual Abuse Case against Archdiocese of Louisville Kentucky, William McMurry Lawyers
  5. Boston archdiocese agrees to pay a record $85 million to victims of abuse US News and World Report
  6. Tucson Diocese emerges from Chapter 11 protection
  7. US Church offers abuse settlement BBC NEWS
  8. California Diocese Settles Abuse Cases
  9. "Orange Diocese to release files in $100 million settlement". The Tidings Online. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
  10. Grace, Francis (2004-12-03). "California Diocese Settles Abuse Cases". CBS News. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
  11. Orange County Weekly. Nailed? Bishop Tod Brown and His Undisclosed Molestation Accusation April 24, 2007
  12. Los Angeles Times. ‘97 abuse claim named O.C. bishop September 14, 2007
  13. "Iowa Diocese Files For Bankruptcy". CBS News. October 10, 2006.
  14. Radio Iowa: Judge throws out Iowa City Regina priest suit
  15. Catholic Diocese of Phoenix Settles Sex-Abuse Claim Associated Press, carried in Arizona Daily Star, December 27, 2006
  16. LA diocese settles abuse claims BBC NEWS
  17. [2]
  18. 18.0 18.1
  20. "LA cardinal offers abuse apology". BBC News. 2007-07-16. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
  21. S.D. Catholic diocese files for bankruptcy
  25. Diocese to pay $4M for abuse October 29, 2009
  26. Tucson Diocese emerges from Chapter 11 protection
  27. "US Church offers abuse settlement". BBC News. January 5, 2007. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  28. "Iowa Diocese Files For Bankruptcy". CBS News. October 10, 2006.
  29. Radio Iowa: Judge throws out Iowa City Regina priest suit
  30. > News > Metro - S.D. Catholic diocese files for bankruptcy
  31. [3]
  32. [4]
  33. [5]
  34. Urbina, Ian (October 20, 2009). "Delaware Diocese Files for Bankruptcy in Wake of Abuse Suits". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2010.

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